THE director of Public Health Dorset said the next couple of weeks are ‘going to be undoubtedly difficult’ with rising Omicron case rates.

Omicron is now the dominant Covid-19 variant, accounting for 90 per cent of infections and the highly transmissible strain has seen case rates sky-rocket to record levels across the country.

Infection rates higher than we've seen before

Infection rates in the BCP Council area are 1,352 per 100,000 people and in the Dorset Council region rates stand at 1,099 as of December 30, 2021, according to the latest NHS data.

“This is way higher than we’ve seen at any point in the pandemic so far,” said Dorset's Public Health Director Sam Crowe.

Dorset Echo: Infection rates are higher than last yearInfection rates are higher than last year

“If you compared that with a year ago in January, BCP Council hit 900 per 100,000 for one week in January, Dorset Council was around about 600 cases in the same week last year.

“But the big difference is that we don’t have anything like as many hospital admissions at the moment.”

There were 74 patients in hospitals across Dorset with Covid as of Tuesday morning, January 4.

Last January there were more than 600 people in local hospitals with Covid-19.

“That just shows you how effective the vaccination programme has been,” said Mr Crowe.

“I think if we can get through the next few weeks, I’m hoping that these high infection rates won’t translate through into hospital admissions - but that’s what we’ve got to look out for in the next couple of weeks.”

Rising infection rates have sparked a myriad of staffing issues across the public sector, with University Hospitals Dorset which runs Royal Bournemouth hospital and Poole hospital declaring a critical incident with pressures over limited beds, staff numbers and other Covid problems taking hold.


Speaking before the critical incident was declared, Mr Crowe said: “It is going to be difficult, undoubtedly over the next couple of weeks.

“A lot of smaller businesses like general practices may find that they are struggling to keep going.

“Business continuity is going to be our most important challenge over the next couple of weeks.”

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced easing of coronavirus testing for those who had a positive result.

Mr Crowe said: “I think we are going to be, as the Prime Minister said, trying to brave this next period without the need for further restrictions but relying very heavily on technologies like lateral flow tests to make sure we are picking up any signs of the virus as early as possible.”